Location

The Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust are based at the former Midsomer Norton South Railway Station. The postal address is Midsomer Norton Station, Silver Street, Midsomer Norton, BA3 2EY. However, there are some specific details that will be of interest to radio hams:

  • Lat/Long: 51.281077°,-2.482759°
  • IARU: IO81sg
  • IOTA: EU005 (UK Mainland)
  • WAB: ST65 – England

Google Map of Midsomer Norton Railway Station

Introduction

The weekend of 27/28 September, aside from being the weekend of the National Hamfest, was the weekend set aside for Railways on the Air. This is one of our bigger special events and it is our fourth year of operation.

We were blessed with good weather on both days and a good turnout of members and visitors throughout the weekend.

As last year we set up our HF SSB station in the carriage adjacent to the buffet car. The carriage had been altered since our last visit and allowed us to face the door whilst operating so as to be able to greet any visitors, although this meant that visitors first perceptions of us, aside from our sunny demeanour, was the back of the rig, ATU and PSU and its associated cabling which is not, perhaps, the most attractive view and something that even our youngest members were unable to fully compensate for.

Setting up on the Saturday morning went more or less to plan until it came time to put up the antenna. Last year had shown us that a half size G5RV at 15.55m (51 feet) in length fitted nicely between roach poles strapped to either end of our railway carriage, with the standard railway carriage length being 19.5m (64 feet) and our plan was to repeat this arrangement this year.

Unfortunately, and unbeknown to us, the vertical "handrails" at either end of our carriage had been removed as part of the refurbishment/restoration/conversion process. This was a shame as last year the carriage had formed a really useful prop to the end of antenna supports.

This year we had to resort to using the rail on the adjoining buffet car at one end and on a locomotive a couple of wagons away at the other end. In and of itself not a major problem, but it did mean that the roach poles had to do much more work this year as instead of having the full height of the operating carriage to resist the tension from the antenna self weight and wind load, this time they had to rely on their own tensile properties and a couple of velcro staps at the base and about 1500mm above the base.

Henryk M0HTB and Andy G7KNA setting up the antenna at the buffet carAntenna at the Locomotive EndDroopy Half Size G5RV

The inevitable happened, and as the antenna was drawn up to provide something approaching a horizontal line the tension was too much and the roach pole at the buffet car snapped its second telescopic section.

It wasn’t the end of the world, collapsing that section into the base restored sufficient structural integrity all be it at the expense of some height which if Louis Varney is to be believed is of little importance over the last sixth of the antennas length in any case. But it did make us more circumspect about tensioning the antenna with the result that this year our antenna was a bit of a droopy affair!

All set for the offLaptop running HRD for loggingPeter G0DRX operating GB0SDR with David G7BYN logging

Never the less, aside from this setback we were on air. Our first contact at around 11:45 BST was GB5ABA the Special Event Station for the West Midlands Air Ambulance, they are fund raising through their QSL cards and donating proceeds to the West Midlands Air Ambulance. There was a small pile-up trying to work Neville but we managed to crack through it on the first or second call so we felt our station was fine even if the aesthetics could have done with a bit more work. A similar result occurred with our first RotA contact of the day with GB1BAS the Bickershaw and Abram Railway Station when we punched through the pile-up there too!

Not all pile-ups were as easy to crack, Pete G0DRX initially failed to emulate the success of both Andy G7KNA and Dave G7BYN although he made many contacts and is to be congratulated for having reserves of feeder which was to prove invaluable through the weekend.

South Bristol Banner at Midsomer NortonObligatory SnacksHear No Evil, See No Evil

The day moved on in this fashion as we took turns between operating, logging, chatting to visitors, many of whom were lapsed hams, touring the station. By the end of the first day we had logged 42 contacts including 14 other RotA registered operations, 5 other Special Event Stations and 2 members of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust who used Amateur Radio to pass their apologies for not being able to get to the AGM.

Thanks should go to the members of SBARC who turned up and supported and helped, in no particular order: Andy G7KNA, Dave G7BYN, Henryk M0HTB, Peter G0DRZ, Eddie 2E0LJT, Tania 2E0TUK, Josh 2E0DSR and Doug G1TYK and anyone I may have inadvertently forgotten

On the Sunday we were joined by a couple of our younger Foundation Licensees who took the opportunity to operate the Special Event Station.

Tom M3TWJ Operating with Ashley M6USP loggingTom M3TWJ Operating with Ashley M6USP loggingTom M3TWJ Operating with Ashley M6USP logging

As the antenna had been left up overnight setup on the Sunday was more efficient and we opened our account shortly after 10:00 BST with a QSO with North Norfolk Railway to set the tone for the day. We found that new RotA registered stations were thinner on the ground today, although we had changed our operating method a little and were working less Special Event stations as we were calling CQ rather than hunting and pouncing. As a result our early work rate was quite high with 15 QSOs in the first hour.

As things were ticking along quite nicely in the afternoon as a “proof of concept” experiment we decided to try to set up a PSK31 station. This consisted of:

  • Yaesu FT-857 HF/VHF/UHF Multi-mode 100W transceiver;
  • 20m Full Wave Delta Loop Antenna with ability to work 30m as a loaded full wave loop, 40m as half wave inverted V-dipole and 15m as a 1.5 wave inverted V-dipole;
  • Watson Power Mite NF25 Switch Mode Power Supply;
  • LDG Z-11 Pro Mk I Auto ATU;
  • Signalink USB Digi Modes Adapter;
  • Diamond SX600 SWR/Power Meter; and
  • Acer Aspire 1 Intel Atom Netbook running Elementary OS (a combination of Ubuntu and Enlightenment Desktop) using FLDigi for PSK31.

It took a little while to get set up, the antenna was constructed around the static goods wagon that forms a feature near the Trust’s museum, and the station itself was set up in the gazebo outside out operating carriage and adjacent to the buffet car.

The Data StationDelta Loop AntennaDelta Loop Antenna

30m wasn’t really that active for data so we switched to 20m. Conscious that we were now working two stations with antennas in close proximity on harmonically related bands we were expecting some issues with interference but nothing manifested itself. Part of this might have been the fact that the antennas were cross polarised, that is the half size G5RV was horizontally polarised whilst the top fed Delta Loop was vertically polarised plus the G5RV was radiating more or less north-south whilst the Delta Loop was more or less east-west.

We didn’t have a great deal of operating time on PSK31 but we managed to have 6 QSOs in PSK31 with stations in Italy, Norway, Germany, Austria and Spain. Most enjoyable was the contact with IN3GNV Giovanni who went away from the standard macro driven rubber stamp QSOs for a personal keyboard to keyboard QSO. Andy G7KNA was operating the PSK31 station at the time and was more than willing to reciprocate with equally non-macro responses and information. In fact the two had worked before, on 17 September 2010 Andy G7KNA operating as GB2BLE from Lundy Island had an equally enjoyable and unscripted QSO with IN3GNV just before the station was packed up for the year. It was memorable precisely because it was personal and not macro driven.

Thanks for help and support on the Sunday go, in no particular order, to Andy G7KNA, Dave G7BYN, Henryk M0HTB, Tom M3TWJ, Ashley M3USP and anyone else who might have been forgotten.

GB0SDR Log
Date Time (UTC) Station Worked Band or Freq'cy Mode RST Name QTH Notes
Sent Rec'd
27/09/14 10:47 GB5ABA 40m LSB 59 59 Nevil Walsall  
27/09/14 11:13 GB1BAS 40m LSB 59+20 59 Jason Bickershaw RotA Bickershaw and Abrham Railway Station
27/09/14 11:17 GB14NH 40m LSB 59+20 59 Jamie   Newark Radio Rally
27/09/14 11:35 GB0GNA 40m LSB 59 59+ Carl Hartlepool A013 International Air Ambulance Week WW1 Gun Battery Museum
27/09/14 11:47 GB0ELR 40m LSB 57-59   Steve Ramsbottom RotA East Lancashire Railway
27/09/14 11:56 GB2LHR 40m LSB 59+20 59/59+10 Bill   RotA Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway (WAB: SD38)
27/09/14 12:06 GB5RSR 40m LSB 57-59 45 Peter Preston Lancashire RotA Ribble Steam Railway
27/09/14 12:13 GB2RGM 40m LSB 55-57 59 John Waltham Abbey RotA Royal Gunpowder Mills
27/09/14 12:20 GB1PCA 40m LSB 58 59 Andrew   Special Event station run by Llanelli ARS to promote the awareness of Prostate Cancer in men in conjunction with Prostate Cancer UK – see QRZ.com (IARU: IO71wq, WAB: SN51)
27/09/14 12:25 GB2EVR 40m LSB 59 59 Mike Appleby Cumbria RotA Eden Valley Railway (Extension to Stockton and Darlington Railway)
27/09/14 13:10 GB0BR 40m LSB 59 59 Mike Horsted Keynes Station RotA Bluebell Railway (IARU IO91xb)
27/09/14 13:11 F5VIG 40m LSB 59 59 Mike Brittany  
27/09/14 13:20 G8NEO 40m LSB 59 59 David Cromer  
27/09/14 13:24 MX0NBC 40m LSB 59 59 Dave Bitton RotA Avon Valley Railway Oldland Common Bitton by North Bristol Radio Club
27/09/14 13:26 GB2AA 40m LSB 59 59 Ben   Widness and Runcorn ARC Special Event for Air Ambulance
27/09/14 13:28 GB2WS 40m LSB 59+ 59+ David   RotA Princess Royal Class Locamotive Trust
27/09/14 13:31 G4STP 40m LSB 59 59 Tony Durham WAB: NZ23
27/09/14 13:33 2E1VAR 40m LSB 59 56 Richard Exeter  
27/09/14 13:36 G4SZST 40m LSB 59 58 Dave    
27/09/14 13:37 GB2DMR 40m LSB 59 59 Bill   RotA Drumawhey Miniture Railway Bangor Northern Ireland
27/09/14 13:39 F4VPL 40m LSB 59 59 Dave South Brittany Member of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
27/09/14 13:43 GB1NNR 40m LSB 59 59 Bob Norfolk RotA North Norfolk Railway
27/09/14 13:45 M0XLT 40m LSB 59 58 Kevin Skipton  
27/09/14 13:46 G4RAC 40m LSB 59 59 John Burton on Trent  
27/09/14 13:47 M0SRS 40m LSB 58 59 Sid    
27/09/14 13:49 2E2KJ 40m LSB 59 59 Adrian    
27/09/14 13:51 M5AEO/P 40m LSB 59 57      
27/09/14 13:54 GB0TLR 40m LSB 59 59 Mike   RotA Tyttenhanger Light Railway
27/09/14 13:58 M0DFW 40m LSB 59 59 Dave   Member of the Somerset and Dorset Railway Heritage Trust
27/09/14 14:03 G4PEK 40m LSB 58 59 Les Gloucester  
27/09/14 14:05 M0KLK 40m LSB 59 59 Bill Isle of Sheppy  
27/09/14 14:11 G8YPL 40m LSB 59 59 Pete Liverpool Use eQSL or QSL card
27/09/14 14:15 M0RLK 40m LSB 59 58-9 Brian Trowbridge No QSL Card
27/09/14 14:16 GB2MHR 40m LSB 59 59 James    
27/09/14 14:20 2E0GBK 40m LSB 59 59 Keith Leatherhead  
27/09/14 14:21 M0SSF 40m LSB 59 57 Peter    
27/09/14 14:24 GB2FLR 40m LSB 59 59 Ian   RotA Foxfield Light Railway
27/09/14 14:31 2E0TVV 40m LSB 59 58-9 Scot West Bromwich  
27/09/14 14:35 GB2CR 40m LSB 59 57 Derek   RotA Corris Railway Snowdonia National Park
27/09/14 14:39 M6CYN 40m LSB 56-7 59 Tony   QRP Station
27/09/14 14:42 G3KAG 40m LSB 57 59 Tony Derbyshire  
27/09/14 14:42 G3VCN 40m LSB 59 59 Paul Plymouth  
28/09/14 09:05 GB2NNR 40m LSB 59 59 Paul   RotA North Norfolk Railway
28/09/14 09:16 G3YSW 40m LSB 59 59 Nigel    
28/09/14 09:16 G1KPK 40m LSB 59 59 Nigel    
28/09/14 09:19 F8DRA 40m LSB 59+20     Normandy  
28/09/14 09:208 GB2KAA 40m LSB     Patrick    
28/09/14 09:21 G4GTX 40m LSB 58   Stuart Sunderland  
28/09/14 09:21 M3FEH 40m LSB       Cornwall  
28/09/14 09:23 F8FLK 40m LSB     Therri North France  
28/09/14 09:24 PA1AT 40m LSB 58 58 Gerry    
28/09/14 09:27 GB0DR 40m LSB 53   John   RotA Dartmoor (Okehampton Station)
28/09/14 09:28 G4WIA 40m LSB 59+20 58 Ivan Cornwall  
28/09/14 09:30 G0TRB 40m LSB   59 Roger Tamworth  
28/09/14 09:31 G0IJM 40m LSB 59+10 59+10 Jen Leicester  
28/09/14 09:34 M0PJD 40m LSB     Peter    
28/09/14 09:39 2E0CCF 40m LSB 57 55 Gerry Yorkshire  
28/09/14 10:07 M0DDU 40m LSB 27       Lost contact due to noise
28/09/14 10:17 G8ISI 40m LSB 59 57 Francis   QSL Card Requested
28/09/14 10:24 G0AJH 40m LSB 59 59 John Hornchurch Essex QSL Card Requested
28/09/14 10:27 G4CIB 40m LSB 59 59 Brian    
28/09/14 10:29 M0KRP 40m LSB 58-9 59 Rod Yeovil  
28/09/14 10:42 G4EJQ 40m LSB 59 59 Rob Plymouth  
28/09/14 10:43 G4SQA 40m LSB 59 59 Dave Peterborough  
28/09/14 12:42 G8NT 40m LSB 59 59 Malcolm    
28/09/14 12:44 F4VLP 40m LSB 59 59 Dave    
28/09/14 12:47 2M0RBM 40m LSB 59 59      
28/09/14 13:03 GB0HBL 40m LSB 59 59 Cliff   RotA The Helston Railway
28/09/14 13:10 2E0PGS 40m LSB 59 58 Peter Bristol  
28/09/14 13:18 G0DMH 40m LSB 59 59 Bruce Loughborough No QSL Card
28/09/14 13:30 IN3GNV 14.068896 PSK31 599 599 Giovanni Bolzano  
28/09/14 13:32 MW0GYV 40m LSB 59 59 Peter Bridgend  
28/09/14 13:42 GI0AZB 40m LSB 59 59 Ian NW Northern Ireland  
28/09/14 13:43 2E0ZAP 40m LSB 57 37 Rob Tamworth  
28/09/14 13:45 G4YYD 40m LSB 59 59 Alan Bury  
28/09/14 13:48 M0TFY 40m LSB 59 59 David    
28/09/14 13:51 M6NAQ 40m LSB 47 47 Andy    
28/09/14 13:55 G0SYF 40m LSB 59 59 Bob Wooton Under Edge  
28/09/14 14:00 M1AYI/P 40m LSB 59 47 Tom Lincoln  
28/09/14 14:02 2E1TAF 40m LSB 59 59 Dave Norwich  
28/09/14 14:06 M1EYA 40m LSB 59 59 Richard Liechester  
28/09/14 14:08 2E0ZYL 40m LSB 59 59 Sue Paulborough  
28/09/14 14:14 M0ZPZ/M 40m LSB 59 59 Lee Stockport  
28/09/14 14:18 G1NEU 40m LSB 59 59 Alan Brixham  
28/09/14 14:19 LB2M 14.06994 PSK31 599 599 Nils   IARU: JO59gw
28/09/14 14:21 2E0NER 40m LSB 59 59 Mike Wakefield  
28/09/14 14:26 DL1HRN 40m LSB 59 59 Eurkin    
28/09/14 14:27 G4NUJ 40m LSB 57 59 Ken North Devon  
28/09/14 14:32 DG2VW 14.069614 PSK31 599 599 Werner Pirna IARU: JO60xx
28/09/14 14:33 G4AFJ 40m LSB 59+10 59 Geoff    
28/09/14 14:40 M0DFW 40m LSB 59 47      
28/09/14 14:42 OE1JEW 14.069614 PSK31   599 Hans   IARU: JN88ee
28/09/14 14:42 G1FHR 40m LSB 57 59 Reg Gillingham  
28/09/14 14:43 MX0HFC 40m LSB 59 59 John Paull  
28/09/14 14:50 DF1GB 14.069614 PSK31 599 599 Gerd Neuhofen IARU: JN49fk
28/09/14 14:50 GI0OND 40m LSB 59 59 Jim Armagh  
28/09/14 14:52 GW3OAJ 40m LSB 59 59 Cess Cardiff  
28/09/14 14:54 M0MTJ 40m LSB 59 59 Mike Perton Near Wolverhampton  
28/09/14 14:57 GB3PFM 40m LSB 59 59 Terry or Tony    
28/09/14 14:58 EA3HOE 14.069614 PSK31     Ton   IARU: JN11bl